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Multi-layer golf ball / Callaway Golf Company




Title: Multi-layer golf ball.
Abstract: Disclosed herein is a multi-layer golf ball having a soft outer cover. The golf ball has an inner cover layer with a Shore D hardness of 60 or more, and an outer cover with a Shore D hardness of 55 or less, and more preferably 50 or less. In a particularly preferred form of the invention, the outer cover comprises one or more polyurethane materials. The golf ball of the invention has exceptionally soft feel and high spin rates on short shots of 80 yards or less, and particularly, 40 yards or less, while maintaining good distance and average spin on full shots. ...


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USPTO Applicaton #: #20100160077
Inventors: Thomas J. Kennedy, Iii, Michael T. Tzivanis, Viktor Keller, William M. Risen, Jr., Mark L. Binette, John L. Nealon


The Patent Description & Claims data below is from USPTO Patent Application 20100160077, Multi-layer golf ball.

CROSS REFERENCES TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

The present application is a continuation application of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 12/390,926 filed on Feb. 23, 2009 which is a continuation of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/874,489 filed on Oct. 18, 2007 which is a continuation of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/621,032 filed on Jan. 8, 2007 which is a continuation of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/712,942 filed on Nov. 23, 2003, now U.S. Pat. No. 7,160,207, which is a divisional application of U.S. application Ser. No. 09/003,422 filed on Nov. 5, 2001, now U.S. Pat. No. 6,648,777.

STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT

Not Applicable

BACKGROUND

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OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to golf balls and, more particularly, to improved golf balls comprising multi-layer covers which have a hard inner layer and a relatively soft outer layer.

2. Description of the Related Art

Traditional golf ball covers have been comprised of balata or blends of balata with elastomeric or plastic materials. The traditional balata covers are relatively soft and flexible. Upon impact, the soft balata covers compress against the surface of the club producing high spin. Consequently, the soft and flexible balata covers provide an experienced golfer with the ability to apply a spin to control the ball in flight in order to produce a draw or a fade, or a backspin which causes the ball to ‘bite’ or stop abruptly on contact with the green. Moreover the soft balata covers produce a soft “feel” to the low handicap player. Such playability properties (workability, feel, etc.) are particularly important in short iron play with low swing speeds and are exploited significantly by relatively skilled players.

Despite all the benefits of balata, balata covered golf balls are easily cut and/or damaged if mis-hit. Golf balls produced with balata or balata-containing cover compositions therefore have a relatively short life-span.

As a result of this negative property, balata and its synthetic substitutes, trans-polybutadiene and transpolyisoprene, have been essentially replaced as the cover materials of choice by new cover materials comprising ionomeric resins.

Ionomeric resins are polymers containing interchain ionic bonding. As a result of their toughness, durability and flight characteristics, various ionomeric resins sold by E.I. DuPont de Nemours & Company under the trademark “Surlyn®” and more recently, by the Exxon Corporation (see U.S. Pat. No. 4,911,451) under the trademarks “Escor®” and the designation Iotek®, have become the materials of choice for the construction of golf ball covers over the traditional “balata” (transpolyisoprene, natural or synthetic) rubbers. As stated, the softer balata covers, although exhibiting enhanced playability properties, lack the durability (cut and abrasion resistance, fatigue endurance, etc.) properties required for repetitive play.

Ionomeric resins are generally ionic copolymers of an olefin, such as ethylene, and a metal salt of an unsaturated carboxylic acid, such as acrylic acid, methacrylic acid, or maleic acid. Metal ions, such as sodium or zinc, are used to neutralize some portion of the acidic group in the copolymer resulting in a thermoplastic elastomer exhibiting enhanced properties, i.e. durability, etc., for golf ball cover construction over balata. However, some of the advantages gained in increased durability have been offset to some degree by the decreases produced in playability. This is because although the ionomeric resins are very durable, they tend to be very hard when utilized for golf ball cover construction, and thus lack the degree of softness required to impart the spin necessary to control the ball in flight. Since the ionomeric resins are harder than balata, the ionomeric resin covers do not compress as much against the face of the club upon impact, thereby producing less spin. In addition, the harder and more durable ionomeric resins lack the “feel” characteristic associated with the softer balata related covers.

As a result, while there are currently more than fifty (50) commercial grades of ionomers available both from DuPont and Exxon, with a wide range of properties which vary according to the type and amount of metal cations, molecular weight, composition of the base resin (i.e., relative content of ethylene and methacrylic and/or acrylic acid groups) and additive ingredients such as reinforcement agents, etc., a great deal of research continues in order to develop a golf ball cover composition exhibiting not only the improved impact resistance and carrying distance properties produced by the “hard” ionomeric resins, but also the playability (i.e., “spin”, “feel”, etc.) characteristics previously associated with the “soft” balata covers, properties which are still desired by the more skilled golfer.

Consequently, a number of two-piece (a solid resilient center or core with a molded cover) and three-piece (a liquid or solid center, elastomeric winding about the center, and a molded cover) golf balls have been produced to address these needs. The different types of materials utilized to formulate the cores, covers, etc. of these balls dramatically alters the balls' overall characteristics. In addition, multi-layered covers containing one or more ionomer resins have also been formulated in an attempt to produce a golf ball having the overall distance, playability and durability characteristics desired.

This was addressed by Spalding Sports Worldwide, Inc., the assignee of the present invention, in U.S. Pat. No. 4,431,193 where a multi-layered golf ball is produced by initially molding a first cover layer on a spherical core and then adding a second layer. The first layer is comprised of a hard, high flexural modulus resinous material such as type 1605 Surlyn® (now designated Surlyn® 8940). Type 1605 Surlyn® (Surlyn® 8940) is a sodium ion based low acid (less than or equal to 15 weight percent methacrylic acid) ionomer resin having a flexural modulus of about 51,000 psi. An outer layer of a comparatively soft, low flexural modulus resinous material such as type 1855 Surlyn® (now designated Surlyn® 9020) is molded over the inner cover layer. Type 1855 Surlyn® (Surlyn® 9020) is a zinc ion based low acid (10 weight percent methacrylic acid) ionomer resin having a flexural modulus of about 14,000 psi.

The \'193 patent teaches that the hard, high flexural modulus resin which comprises the first layer provides for a gain in coefficient of restitution over the coefficient of restitution of the core. The increase in the coefficient of restitution provides a ball which serves to attain or approach the maximum initial velocity limit of 255 feet per second as provided by the United States Golf Association (U.S.G.A.) rules. The relatively soft, low flexural modulus outer layer provides for the advantageous “feel” and playing characteristics of a balata covered golf ball.

In various attempts to produce a durable, high spin ionomer golf ball, the golfing industry has blended the hard ionomer resins with a number of softer ionomeric resins. U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,884,814 and 5,120,791 are directed to cover compositions containing blends of hard and soft ionomeric resins. The hard copolymers typically are made from an olefin and an unsaturated carboxylic acid. The soft copolymers are generally made from an olefin, an unsaturated carboxylic acid, and an acrylate ester. It has been found that golf ball covers formed from hard-soft ionomer blends tend to become scuffed more readily than covers made of hard ionomer alone. It would be useful to develop a golf ball having a combination of softness and durability which is better than the softness-durability combination of a golf ball cover made from a hard-soft ionomer blend.

Most professional golfers and good amateur golfers desire a golf ball that provides distance when hit off a driver, control and stopping ability on full iron shots, and high spin on short “touch and feel” shots. Many conventional two-piece and thread wound performance golf balls have undesirable high spin rates on full shots. The excessive spin on full shots is a sacrifice made in order to achieve more spin which is desired on the shorter touch shots. It would be beneficial to provide a golf ball which has high spin for touch shots without generating excessive spin on full shots.

SUMMARY

- Top of Page


OF THE INVENTION

An object of the invention is to provide a golf ball with a soft cover which has good scuff resistance.

Yet another object of the invention is to provide a golf ball having a favorable combination of spin rate and durability.

A further object of the invention is to provide a golf ball having a soft cover made from a cover material which is blended with minimal mixing difficulties.

Another object of the invention is to provide a method of making a golf ball which has a soft cover with good scuff resistance and cut resistance.

Another object of the invention is to provide a golf ball which has a high spin on shots of 250 feet or less and an average spin on full shots using a 9 iron.

Yet another object of the invention is to provide a method of making a durable golf ball with a relatively high spin rate.

A further object of the invention is to provide a multi-layer golf ball having exceptionally soft feel and high spin rates on short shots while maintaining good distance on full shots.

Yet another object of the invention is to provide a multi-layer golf ball having a high spin rate on short shots and not having an excessive spin rate on long shots.

Other objects will be in part obvious and in part pointed out more in detail hereafter.

In a first aspect, the present invention provides a golf ball, comprising a core, a thermoplastic inner cover layer formed over the core, the inner cover layer having a Shore D hardness of at least 60 as measured on the surface thereof, and an outer cover layer formed over the inner cover layer, the outer cover layer having a Shore D hardness of no more than 55 as measured on the surface thereof, the golf ball having a PGA compression of 100 or less and a coefficient of restitution of at least 0.770.

In another aspect, the present invention provides a golf ball comprising a core, an inner cover layer formed over the core, and an outer cover layer formed over the inner cover layer. The inner cover layer has a Shore D hardness of at least 60 as measured on the curved surface thereof and is formed of a composition including at least one material selected from the group of consisting of polyphenylene ether/ionomer blends, ionomers, polyamides, polyurethanes, polyester elastomers, polyester amides, metallocene catalyzed polyolefins, and blends thereof. The outer cover layer has a Shore D hardness of no more than 55 as measured on the curved surface thereof. The golf ball has a spin factor of about 5, a PGA compression of 100 or less, and a coefficient of restitution of at least 0.770.

In yet another aspect, the present invention provides a golf ball comprising an inner ball and an outer cover layer formed over the inner ball. The inner ball comprises a core and an inner cover layer disposed about the core. The inner ball has a coefficient of restitution of at least 0.780. The outer cover layer has a Shore D hardness of no more than 55 as measured on the Curved surface thereof. The golf ball has a coefficient of restitution of at least 0.770 and a PGA compression of 100 or less.

In a further aspect, the present invention provides a golf ball comprising a core, an inner cover layer disposed about the core, and an outer cover layer disposed about the inner cover layer. The inner cover layer has a Shore D hardness of at least 60 as measured on the curved surface thereof and comprises at least one material selected from the group consisting of polyphenylene ether/ionomer blends, ionomers, polyamides, polyurethanes, polyester elastomers, polyester amides, metallocene catalyzed polyolefins, and blends thereof. The outer cover layer has a Shore D hardness of no more than 55 as measured on the curved surface thereof and comprises at least one material selected from the group consisting of polyphenylene ether/ionomer blends, ionomers, polyamides, polyurethanes, polyester elastomers, polyester amides, metallocene catalyzed polyolefins, and blends thereof. The golf ball has a PGA compression of 100 or less and a coefficient of restitution of at least 0.770.

The invention accordingly comprises the several steps and the relation of one or more of such steps with respect to each of the others and the articles possessing the features, properties, and the relation of elements exemplified in the following detailed disclosure.




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stats Patent Info
Application #
US 20100160077 A1
Publish Date
06/24/2010
Document #
File Date
12/31/1969
USPTO Class
Other USPTO Classes
International Class
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Drawings
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20100624|20100160077|multi-layer golf ball|Disclosed herein is a multi-layer golf ball having a soft outer cover. The golf ball has an inner cover layer with a Shore D hardness of 60 or more, and an outer cover with a Shore D hardness of 55 or less, and more preferably 50 or less. In a |Callaway-Golf-Company
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